Health Buzz: Botox for Migraines and Other Health News

A heart-protective enzyme, eating fish for the children, and training before competition.

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Botox May Help Ease Migraines

Antiwrinkle injection Botox may help relieve migraines by reducing the number of days people suffer from the headaches, drugmaker Allergan Inc. reported yesterday. A company-funded study showed that those who received Botox injections experienced a greater decrease in both the number of headache days and number of headache episodes compared with a placebo group. Researchers studied people who suffer chronic migraines, defined as headaches and/or migraines that occur 15 or more days per month. Full results from company-funded trials are expected to be published next year.

In June, U.S. News described a hand-held device that may ease migraines and listed five types of drugs used to treat the headaches. Previously, Ben Harder explored whether mending a hole in the heart might also put an end to migraines.

Compound Could Help Protect the Heart from Damage

A molecule called Alda-1—best known for helping the body process alcohol—was unexpectedly found to play a role in protecting the heart from damage, according to a study published in the September 12 issue of Science. The enzyme was found to reduce tissue damage caused by particles called free radicals. The study helps explain a long-observed phenomenon in which moderate drinkers tend to have less severe heart attacks than teetotalers. Alcohol, in small amounts, preconditions the heart to resist damage, but until now, the mechanism of the preconditioning has been unknown.

A separate study examines an approach to fighting heart disease through oral hygiene. In May, Deborah Kotz reported that women having heart attacks are often slow to get help.

How Fish Can Affect Your Baby's Brainpower

A new Harvard University study published in this month's American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that expectant moms who ate the most fish—more than three servings a week—were 30 percent more likely to have children with higher developmental scores at 18 months of age compared with those whose mothers ate less than one serving a week. But the women from Denmark weren't choosing tuna, shark, or king mackerel (known for their high mercury content). Instead they tended to eat low-mercury varieties common in their region: cod, salmon, herring, and smaller species of mackerel.

While inherited genes play a role in a baby's intelligence, U.S. News's Deborah Kotz lists five things expectant moms can do to help boost their babies' brainpower.

How to Train as Competition Day Approaches

Olympic athletes must be in top physical condition in order to put forth their best effort at competition time. But how do they prepare right before main event? U.S. News's Katherine Hobson asked Bob Alejo, the strength coach for beach volleyball gold medalists' Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser, how they got ready for the event. The pair did regular workouts consisting of about an hour of weights, including squats, and plyometrics (exercises that build explosive power, such as jumping up onto a box). At home, they typically lift between 80 percent and 100 percent of their maximum capacity; in Beijing, it was usually between 70 and 85 percent, Alejo says.

In July, Hobson introduced 11 Olympians and their favorite workouts.

—January W. Payne